Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


What a Day for Sports! Are Libraries Ready for the NeXt Generation?

What a day yesterday was in the world of sports. I spent a good portion of my Sunday watching Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer play in the Wimbledon tennis championship on television in a nearly 5 hour tennis match that was the longest men’s final in history and probably the greatest ever. Nadal finally bested 5 time Wimbledon Champ Federer to win 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7(8), 9-7. It was the best tennis match that I, personally, have ever seen. Both players were courting history. Nadal sought to win both the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year which had not been done in 28 years since Bjorn Borg and his wooden racquet in 1980. Federer, was playing for a 6th consecutive Wimbledon win which had not occurred in over a century.

To continue the sports Wow!-dom, I then watched Dara Torres set a new American record in the 50 meter freestyle at the age of 41 in the Olympic qualifying trials. Yes, you read right. Torres, the former Olympic Champion and mom qualified for the Beijing Olympics in both the 50 meter and 25 meter freestyle events. Quite an accomplishment in a sport that favors swimmers in their teens and twenties. Why did Torres start swimming again? To get in shape after having a baby. Then Torres discovered that she was beating everyone in the pool. And the rest is history, literally.

Then there is also World Series pitching champ Curt Schilling of the Boston Red Sox who won his last world series game at age 40 and surfing champ Laird Hamilton who still rides the big waves at 44.

So, what does all this have to do with libraries? Well, it leads me to wonder what libraries are doing to support a new generation of readers and library users with programs and services?

By “new generation” I do not mean the teens and tweeners, but rather the Baby Boomers and Generation X’ers who are shattering preconceptions of what middle-age and retirement should be. Many are taking up sports they once played as kids and teens, such as tennis and jogging/running. Others are onto second or third careers, or are using their professional skills to volunteer at local non-profit organizations—perhaps including your Friends of the Library group.

So the question for libraries may well become not “Are libraries ready for teens?”, but rather “Are libraries ready for the teens’ parents and grandparents?”

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  • At 1:11 PM, Blogger the subversive librarian said…

    I just stumbled across your blog after reading about the title of the book by the same name in the June '08 issue of Computers in Librries. I am intrigued and look forward to reading and contributing to the blog. I love pop culture and I love talking about it. It's great conversation material. You can only talk about the weather so much. Every generation I believe can relate to pop culture. Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, Gen Ys--there's something that will interest all ages. Using pop culture as a way to attract our communties is a great approach to expanding services as well as meeting the needs of demographic groups that feel they have been overlooked.

  • At 8:00 PM, Blogger Susan said…

    Thanks for your comment. I think pop culture is a fun way to connect generations and think that Sophie and Liz's upcoming book, "Pop Goes the Library: Using Pop Culture to Connect with Your Whole Community" will provide lots of inspiration for library programs and services.


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